DEMATERIALIZATION. In an important text of 1968, Lucy R. Lippard and John Chandler chose that word to describe the presumed disappearance of the aesthetic object in the context of Conceptual art. Dematerialization proved to be a useful myth: useful in that the term was convenient shorthand for the decline of the conventional art object (a painting or sculpture handmade by the artist-author); a myth in that so much advanced work of the period yielded a decidedly material proliferation of paperworkhandwritten or typed texts, contracts of ownership and certificates of authenticity, photographic documentation, inventories, and working drawings. Indeed, the surge of paper traces back several years to the advent of Minimalism, in which drawings and other documents routinely supported the production of sculptural objects made by studio assistants or small commercial fabricators.
Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.
Not registered for artforum.com?
SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*
* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.